You’re walking to work, planning what you’re going to have for lunch, when it happens: a man you don’t know yells ‘nice tits’ in your general direction.
It’s disarming. Threatening. It puts a real dampener on your day.There’s no way you’d show any interest in someone catcalling you, and the man doing it must be aware of that. So why do they do it? Why are there still so many men who think it’s okay to harass women in the street?
A new study may go some way to explain things a little.
Research from Promundo and UN Women looked into street harassment in Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine, surveying 4,830 men in total.
They found that 31% of the men in Lebanon and 64% in Egypt has admitted to having sexually harassed women and girls out in public, in ways ranging from catcalls to rape.
Interestingly, it was the young men with secondary-level education who more likely to harass women than older men who were less educated – which goes against formerly held ideas that more educated men will have more enlightened views of women.
The researchers believe that the reasons men in these areas are so prone to sexually harassing women come down the countries’ instability.
They point to the region’s high unemployment rates, which lead many of the men surveyed to say they felt stressed, depressed, and ashamed of being unable to provide for their families.
The researchers believe that harassing women may be a way to regain a feeling of power in the midst of a life in which they feel useless.
Study may shed some light on why men catcall women. ‘They [harass women] to put them in their place,’ one of the researchers told NPR. ‘They feel like the world owes them.’
The co-author, Shereen El Feki, added that in places such as Egypt, the high rate of harassment ‘speaks to the mind-numbing tedium of being a young man’ in a place where they can’t make a living.
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